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At the Rink blog
Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 2:53 PM

By Curtis Zupke -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kings happy to be in, but know work remains

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For a team that barely squeaked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Kings weren't really breathing a big sigh of relief Sunday.

Los Angeles clinched a berth when the Detroit Red Wings lost Saturday night, but they have bigger fish to fry as it sits fourth in the Western Conference standings going into a game against the Dallas Stars on Sunday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

"It's always nice when that 'X' appears in front of your team's name," Anze Kopitar said. "But we have some other business to take care of. We're shooting for home ice. That's been the goal for the last two weeks, and we're going to stick to it."

The defending Cup champions know last season was a historical anomaly. They were the first eighth seed to win the Cup, having started all four postseason series in another city.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 2:29 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Rangers icing same lineup against Devils

NEW YORK -- Last summer the New York Rangers' season ended against the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They now have an opportunity to gain a measure of revenge, as they can eliminate the Devils from postseason contention with a win Sunday at Madison Square Garden (3 p.m. ET, NBC).

They'll go about doing that by icing the same lineup that has scored 14 goals in the past two games, including a franchise-record five goals in a span of 2:58 Friday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on 28 shots in Buffalo, but he will be back in the crease Sunday for his eleventh straight start. Before the Rangers' 8-4 win Friday, Lundqvist had allowed two goals or fewer in 13 of his past 15 games.

Here is the projected lineup for the Rangers:

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Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 1:28 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Volchenkov back in lineup for Devils

NEW YORK -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov will be back in the lineup Sunday afternoon against the New York Rangers (3 p.m. ET, NBC) after serving his four-game suspension for elbowing Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand on April 10.

Volchenkov is replacing Mark Fayne because coach Peter DeBoer is predicting that it will be a physical game against the Rangers and he wants to dress a lineup that is adept to playing that style.

"We put a lineup in that we think will give us the best chance to win," DeBoer said. "That's all I can tell you."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 12:45 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Shoulder injury to end Nugent-Hopkins' season

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said he has a labral tear in his shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.

Prior to a crucial game Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks, the Oilers reported Nugent-Hopkins will travel to Cleveland to have his shoulder examined, with surgery a likely possibility.

The Oilers need a win to keep their hopes for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs alive. They enter the game 12th in the Western Conference, seven points behind the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets with five games remaining.

Nugent-Hopkins, the first pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, had four goals and 20 assists in 40 games this season. He missed time earlier this season with an injury to his left shoulder, and missed 20 games last season with a shoulder injury.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 11:47 AM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Bruins: Horton, McQuaid out, Lucic, Hamilton in

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins will play the Florida Panthers at TD Garden Sunday without forward Nathan Horton.

Horton, third on the Bruins with 13 goals, was injured Saturday during a first-period fight with Jarome Iginla during the Bruins' 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Horton is day-to-day, according to coach Claude Julien.

Defenseman Adam McQuaid also will sit out against Florida. McQuaid left the game Saturday in the second period with a lower-body injury after a hit from Penguins forward Matt Cooke. McQuaid played the third period, but Julien said the blueliner also is day-to-day.

Rookie Dougie Hamilton and veteran forward Milan Lucic, who were healthy scratches Saturday, are expected to be in the lineup against Florida.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 11:26 AM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lindback returning to Lightning lineup

TAMPA -- Two teams looking to finish disappointing seasons in a bit of a positive way will meet Sunday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Carolina Hurricanes.

For the Hurricanes, after dropping a 5-3 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, the morning was time off to rest. For the Lightning, the morning skate was optional and only a handful of players were on the ice.

Anders Lindback, one half of the Lightning's goalie tandem of the future, along with Ben Bishop, will get the start in net Sunday, his first game back after missing 13 with an ankle injury.

The start also will mark Lindback's first game for new Lightning coach Jon Cooper, but Cooper played down the importance of that.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 4:39 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Higgins being eased into Canucks lineup

VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins is close to coming back from a minor knee strain. That return should also provide enough forward depth to help the Canucks bring back their three-line attack.

Until then, however, Vancouver will probably continue to load up their top-two lines. That means playing centers Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy together on the second unit as they try to clinch a playoff spot Saturday night with a win over a Detroit Red Wings team that needs a victory to move back into eighth place in the West.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said he would take the afternoon to decide whether to continue the two-line tactic of the past two games. Throughout the team's morning skate, Higgins skated on the third line with Roy in the middle and Jannik Hansen on the right.

Higgins huddled with the coach and trainers towards the end of practice, but said he wasn’t yet ready to play.

“We’re pretty close but it didn't feel quite right and I hadn't had a full practice with the team,” said Higgins, who has played well with trade-deadline addition Roy, getting 14 shots in three games before hurting his knee and missing three contests. “Definitely close. It just needs another day, get a full practice in.”

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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 2:12 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Smith could start for Coyotes against Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- The Phoenix Coyotes could use a boost heading into the last five games of the regular season and might get one Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks (8:30 p.m. ET) at United Center.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said after Saturday’s morning skate that injured goalie Mike Smith, who missed the past two games with a lower-body issue, might return to face Chicago (34-5-4) in a big road game for the Coyotes (18-17-8).

“I haven’t talked to him yet, but there’s a chance he’ll play tonight,” Tippett said. “He’s our No. 1 goaltender. If we can get him in there and get him on a roll, that gives us the best chance to win.”

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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 1:32 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Defenseman Diaz returns for Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will have defenseman Raphael Diaz back in the lineup when they face the Washington Capitals in a key battle for Stanley Cup Playoff positioning Saturday at Bell Centre.

Diaz has missed 25 games with a concussion; he was a key member of Montreal’s defense prior to the injury, playing 20:36 per game. With Alexei Emelin’s season-ending knee injury throwing the Canadiens defense pairings into a state of flux, Diaz’s return is a welcome boost.

In 19 games this season, Diaz has a goal and 12 assists, with seven of his 13 points coming on the power play, where he could help Montreal’s second unit.

The Capitals will be going with the same lineup that lost 3-1 at Ottawa Senators on Thursday, one still missing Brooks Laich (groin) and Joel Ward (knee contusion). By the time the puck drops, the Capitals will know the result of the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the New York Islanders. The Jets began the day two points behind the Capitals in the race for the Southeast Division.

“We’re all scoreboard watching, obviously, and the game’s earlier than ours so it makes it difficult,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “But our job is to play hockey. The guys are going to go to sleep focusing on the game tonight. No matter the outcome of that game, we’ve got to play our game tonight.”

The goaltending matchup pits Braden Holtby for the Capitals against Carey Price for the Canadiens.

Here are the projected lineups for each team:

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Posted On Saturday, 04.20.2013 / 1:30 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hurricanes' Skinner instructed to be cautious

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Forward Jeff Skinner will return to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup when they play the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Skinner sat out Thursday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets. He was on the receiving end of an open-ice hit from the Ottawa Senators' Jared Cowen on Tuesday night. Skinner did not return during the game and was returned here for observation.

Upon returning home, team doctors determined he did not suffer a concussion.

"I respect the decision the doctor made," Skinner said. "I agree you have to be safe and cautious."

The Hurricanes have reminded the 20-year-old forward to be aware of vulnerable places on the ice, particularly in light of his knack for drawing contact.

"Maybe I shouldn't have been cutting across [the neutral zone] there," Skinner said. "I saw the guy, but I didn't think he would step up there, but he did. I don't think there's a point in dwelling on it. It's done, so you move forward."

Here are the likely lineups for Saturday's game:

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Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery